Wednesday, April 24, 2013

To the Daffodil

I made this photo for my facebook, and I like it so well, I wanted to put it here, too.  I love the greens and yellows together.  I love the poem.  I love daffodils.  We're still waiting to see them here this year, but a woman can dream.  The original photo was from my friend Karin, and of her spring gardens in northern Indiana.

Another text I had considered including was the Daffodowndilly traditional English rhyme,

Is new come to town
In a yellow petticoat 
And a green gown.

And as long as we're on the subject, here are a few other choice daffodil tidbits.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
~William Wordsworth, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," 1804

When I bought my farm, I did not know what a bargain I had in the bluebirds, daffodils and thrushes; as little did I know what sublime mornings and sunsets I was buying.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The daffodil is our doorside queen; 
She pushes upward the sword already, 
To spot with sunshine the early green.
~William Cullen Bryant

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Joyful Cacophony

This post demonstrates two very opposite truths of Christian family life:  1) the great joy of seeing children practicing their reading skills by singing familiar hymns from the hymnal; and 2) the chagrin at seeing something that littles learn from bigs, which is not always the kind of thing a mother wishes her children would learn in association with a well-loved hymn.

Christmas Angel Choir from Gerard David's Nativity
The well loved hymn:
Joy to the World

The setting: 
Our living room. 

Stella singing a little bit ahead, since she is a faster reader. 
Donna slowly sounding out the words based on her rudimentary reading skills and familiarity with the hymn. 
Inge, flying in from the kitchen about half-way through, with her own little addition to the choir.

Reader beware:  Cacophony ensued which I will try to capture in the written word.  You must imagine much simultaneous singing of a variety of words.

Stella:  Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth, receive her King.  Let every heart, ...
Donna joins at about this time, still keeping time, since the first verse is mostly familiar:  Joy  to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth, receive her King.  Let every heart, ...

A little further on, it sounded somewhat like this:

Stella:  Joy to the earth
Donna: Let every heart
Stella: The Savior reigns
Donna: Prepare Him room
Stella: Let men their songs employ
Donna: And heaven and nature sing

But at some point in this somewhat disarrayed, but still lovely chorus, Inge came flying in, joining at the top of her lungs, singing with great zeal to compete with the other strains:

Joy to the world, my bus driver's dead.  We barbecued his head.

Ms Frizzle and Lizzie, from the Magic Schoolbus

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quick and Healthful Soup for Sick Days

I've had sick kids for days.  The last two days were spend with my two youngest hanging their heads in buckets.  By the time today rolled around, they were so puny.  Just wimpy looking, flaccid skin and muscle tone.  They could hardly hold up their little cups to sip their drinks. 

Besides that, theMom was pretty much at the end of her stamina, too.  Simply no more energy to wring out of me.  I had nothing left to give.

Which left us in a situation in which I felt we needed a good healthful meal, but had no energy to produce one.  With stocked up ingredients and a little creativity, however, we ended up with a fabulous and hopefully nutritive soup.

I'm not sure I could come up with a good name for it, since the ingredients are so, well, strange.  Probably the best I could do is Elk and Onions in Beef Bone Broth, with Spaetzle and Carrots.

Easy Healthy Soup, aka Elk and Onions in Beef Bone Broth, with Spaetzle and Carrots
  • Three medium onions
  • Celery with leaves.  I used about an inch and a half diameter of the center of a stalk.
  • A hefty splash of olive oil
  • Three to four quarts of your choice of broth.  Homemade bone broth is great if you have it.  We have canned home made beef bone broth on hand.  It's more of a concentrate, really.  I used 2 pints of broth and diluted each with about 3 pints of water.
  • salt to taste
Simmer to soften veggies.
Prepare your spaetzle batter while the soup simmers. (See below)
  • When veggies are about halfway softened, add 1 bag of frozen carrots. (If you don't have frozen, you can add fresh with the onions and celery; or canned at the end with the meat.)
  • When the veggies are almost done cooking, add your spaetzle.   Cook according to instructions below.
  • When spaetzle is done cooking, remove from heat and add 2 cups of your choice of cooked meat. I used a pint of canned elk.
  • Stir in your choice of herbs and spices. I used parsley, oregano, black pepper, and sage, to taste.  I don't measure, but perhaps 1 T parsley, 1 T oregano, 3/4 t black pepper, and 1/4-1/2 t sage.
GF Spaetzle

Mix together:
  • 3 c GF flour mix
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum (unless your mix already includes it)
  • 3/8 tsp salt
Mix together
  • 3 egg
  • 1 c milk
Pour milk and egg mixture into flour mixture.  Stir together.  Set aside until soup is nearly done. 

When veggies are nearly done, add spaetzle to soup by putting through a potato ricer with largish wholes.  Stir.  Bring to simmering and reduce heat to just maintain a simmer.   Cover.   Cook for about 5 minutes.
A few things I will do differently next time:

1) I forgot to salt my broth until the very end.  So the spaetzle was a bit bland.  When we make broth, we cook up the bones into infinity, and then strain through cheesecloth.  Then we let it sit overnight and skim most of the fat off before canning.  (We do use the fat, but Joe has read fat can effect the seal in home canning, so we use or preserve it separately.)  After the fat is off, Joe pressure cans the broth.

2) I perused a few other spaetzle recipes, and I think next time I will add more eggs and cut the milk some.  These were more fluffy than chewy.  The spaetzle I've really liked in the past is chewier, more dense.

3)  I will add more broth.  We all got broth the first helping.  But after that, what remained was more like stew.

Even without these suggested improvements, the soup was terrific.  It was very fun to see the kids all taking seconds and third, and even fourths.  And the two littlest sickies both ate a small portion eagerly.

What more can a mom ask for, right?  A nutritive meal that took less than 1/2 hour to prepare.